views updated

Sarcophagidae (flesh flies; order Diptera, suborder Cyclorrapha) Family of flies that was formerly considered by some authors to be a subfamily of the Calliphoridae. Flesh flies are associated with carrion and animal matter since these are the substrates in which their larvae feed. Adults are mainly grey, with marbled abdomens, but are rarely metallic to any extent. The arista of the antennae are plumose on the basal half only. Many species are distinguished only by the male genitalia. The female of the common Sarcophaga carnaria is larviparous (deposits larvae rather than eggs). The larvae are well adapted to their mode of life, with rear spiracles set in a deep pit, the edges of which have flexible, fleshy lobes which can be used to seal off the spiracles. This is necessary when the larvae liquefy their carrion and are in danger of drowning. As the larva feeds, the fleshy lobes around the rear spiracles act as floats, allowing it to breathe. The pupa is formed inside the cuticle of the final instar larva (puparium). Escape from the puparium is effected by an inflatable sac (ptilinum) on the head of the fly. This also helps in forcing a path through the pupation medium, which is often soil. More than 1600 species are known to exist.